CONCORD in English grammar

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Ocham, Aug 4, 2008.

  1. Ocham Senior Member

    Tokyo
    Japanese
    Hello, everyone

    I’d like to know about the CONCORD in English grammar.
    In the following question, the correct answer is 1). I know it’s
    grammatically correct. But I’d like to know if the rules are
    so strictly observed in your daily speech or writing that you
    never make mistakes in deciding to use is/are or was/were.

    ( ) was happy over the victory.
    1) Not only the players but also the coach
    2) The players as well as the coach
    3) Both the players and the coach
    4) Either the coach or the players
     
  2. mtmjr

    mtmjr Senior Member

    California/Ohio (US)
    English (US)
    I'm not so sure 1 is correct. I see #1 as having an implied "they":

    Not only the players but also the coach, [they (all)] were happy over the victory.

    I could be wrong, but my natural instinct is to use "were" for all the choices, thus leaving no correct answer...

    Personally, I find the construction of 1 a bit unnatural. I would phrase the sentence:

    Not only the players were happy over the victory, but also the coach.
     
  3. blank_frackis Junior Member

    English - Scotland
    I'm guessing that the original question was "this is the end of a sentence, which of these phrases would come before it". In that case I would say "Not only the players, but also the coach was happy over the performance" is the correct answer.

    Anyway outside of obscure and difficult examples (like the one above) everyone will use was/were and is/are in the correct way. Of course there are people who will make mistakes, but it will always be seen as bad English.
     
  4. mtmjr

    mtmjr Senior Member

    California/Ohio (US)
    English (US)
    Personally, I would not insert comma(s) as blankfrankis did above. I see the "but also" phrase as a removed part of the subject, expressed either with two commas or parentheses:

    Not only the players, but also the coach, were happy over the victory.
    Not only the players (but also the coach) were happy over the victory.

    As such, the verb agrees with players, not coach, and is thus "were". However, if someone were to say either was or were in this case, neither would sound uneducated or flat-out wrong.
     
  5. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    Technically the answer should be on the lines of "not only were the players happy, but so, also, was the coach.

    Bad question:mad:.
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2008
  6. mtmjr

    mtmjr Senior Member

    California/Ohio (US)
    English (US)
    Building off of Loob's suggestion, I think a common and natural way to say it would be (at least in AE):

    Not only the players were happy over the victory, but so (too) was the coach.

    I like the "too", but I don't know how common that is.
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2008
  7. Ocham Senior Member

    Tokyo
    Japanese
    Thanks a lot to all of you
    for your enlightening suggestion.
    I'm very much impressed.
     
  8. Mr.X Senior Senior Member

    Singapore
    Burmese & English (2nd Language)
    It's tricky to choose between singular and plural verb when singular and plurar subjects are connected with "not only ... but also". Rule as I understand , verb to be followed nearer subject, in #1 coach is a singular noun, therefore was was used.
     
  9. rsweet

    rsweet Senior Member

    English, North America
    I agree with Mr.X Senior.

    If you use "either . . . or," "not only . . . but also," or "neither . . . nor," the subject closest to the verb determines whether the verb is singular or plural.
     
  10. Forero Senior Member

    Houston, Texas, USA
    USA English
    I agree with Mr. X Senior and Rsweet.

    1) Not only [were] the players [happy] but also the coach – singular because the verb for the "not only" part has been omitted and the verb belongs to "the coach".
    2) The players as well as the coach – plural because the conjunction as subordinates, and the subject is players.
    3) Both the players and the coach – plural because both ... and ... lumps all these people together, and they are all the subject.
    4) Either the coach [was happy] or the players – plural to agree with the nearest alternative subject. Either says there is a choice.

     

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